Mostarda is one of two secret ingredients in Tortelli di Zucca. (Do you know what the other is?) You don’t have to make tortellinis by hand to appreciate it though. In fact, this is a great recipe to make for your next pot luck party because it’s easy to make, it looks like you put in a lot of effort but you didn’t, and it’s a refreshing change from yet another person bag of pita chips and hummus. All you need is some dry peppered salami and a hard sharp cheese such as Fontina, Asiago, or even Parmigiano Reggiano to go along with it.
This recipe is very different from the mostarda I found in Italian markets and on Amazon, but that’s ok. Those were almost like a clear jelly with large chunks or even whole pieces of fruit. I wanted it to have a lot of flavor and I was skeptical that a jelly could deliver that much punch. I also wanted it to be versatile so I could use as a spread that looked appetizing and as an ingredient in Tortelli di Zucca.
So instead of buying a $10-11 jar of mostarda, I set out to make my own. Primarily as an excuse to “have” to go buy a baguette, salami, and cheese to go with it. I mean, with so much left over, it would be a shame not to, right?
I started with this recipe from Food and Wine and tweaked it to make it slightly spreadable but still nicely textured. I wasn’t able to find dried cherries, so I ended up using a jar of sour cherry preserve, which is a Persian condiment. My grocery store actually had a large selection of sour cherry preserves (also called (Moraba Albaloo) because they also serve a lot of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern customers. Some brands had whole cherries and others had more of a rough puree. I chose this brand because the cherries were whole, which meant it would be easier to strain them and rinse off the syrup. (Mostarda is already sweet enough.)
If you’re not able to find dried cherries (or even apricots), don’t worry. One thing I noticed was how many variations of mostarda there is. Some regions make it with green apples (Mostarda Cremonese) and others with big pieces of mixed fruit (Mostarda Mantovana). So if you can’t find dried cherries, you can try another variation. The world is your oyster.
Here are some suggestions for dried fruit combinations (keeping the ginger and all of the other ingredients the same).
- apricot + orange (juice and zest), served with Brie
- apricot + currants/raisins + lemon juice + splash of Madeira, served with goat cheese
- apricot + apple + pine nuts + rosemary, served with Camembert or goat cheese
- cherry + fig + orange zest + splash Cognac or Grand Marnier + Bordeaux or Merlot instead of Pinot Grigio, served with Brie, Manchego, Gorgonzola, or goat cheese
Oh man. So many choices and so little time!
I’m tempted to try the last one on the list with Manchego or Iberico. Manchego and Iberico are two of my go-to’s for wine and cheese night. They’re firm sheep cheeses with a subtle bite, so they work well with a sweet mostarda.
Spanish cheeses like Manchego and Iberico are popular so even places like Trader Joe’s have a great brand in stock.
So go crazy. Mix it up or go the same way I did. Just promise me you’ll turn it into a wine and cheese night. (You wouldn’t want it to go bad, would you?)
- ¼ pound dried apricots, cut into ¼-inch pieces
- ¼ cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped (see Notes)
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 and ½ tsp candied ginger, minced
- ½ cup dry white wine (such as Pinot Grigio)
- 3 T white wine vinegar
- 3 T water
- 3 T sugar
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 T unsalted butter
- In a medium sized sauce pan, heat the apricots, cherries, shallot, ginger, white wine, white wine vinegar, water, and sugar over high heat until it begins to boil.
- Cover, reduce to low heat, and cook until the mixture has absorbed all of the remaining liquid, about 20 minutes.
- Increase to medium heat, add the dry mustard, Dijon mustard, and unsalted butter, then simmer for an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently. It should be thick, slightly jam-like, and slightly chunky, with no excess liquid at the bottom of the pan.
- Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Mostarda can be served cold or at room temperature. It can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 week.
*This was a lot cheaper at a local Mediterranean and Middle Eastern store (~$3). If you have one nearby, I recommend trying to find it there.